Category Archives: Flat Roofs

Flat Roof Materials & Installation Costs 2020: PVC vs. TPO, EPDM Rubber, BUR, Modified Bitumen, Spray-on Coating

When it comes to covering up a flat roof, your options are both limited and expansive. What that means in a nutshell is that your traditional roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, concrete tiles, and corrugated metal are out of the window. That being said, flat roof systems such as PVC, TPO, EPDM rubber, and others, each have their distinct pros and cons.

EPDM Rubber installed on a flat roof by GemTile

So why can’t you put traditional roofing materials on a flat roof? Well, technically you can, but they are almost guaranteed to leak!

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Systems designed for sloped roofs, such as asphalt shingles and concrete or clay tiles, are installed by overlapping one row on top of another. These systems work cohesively with the pitch of the roof to shed rainwater and snow as it falls from the sky.

Since flat roofs have little to no pitch, the water would work itself underneath the shingles or tiles, eventually rotting the substrate and causing leaks on your interior.

Covering a flat roof is a whole different animal (specialized skills and expertise are required) than shingling a pitched one. On a flat roof, generally speaking, you want to avoid any types of seams, if at all possible.

The biggest threat is of course going to be water, which WILL find any access though any hole or inadequately-sealed seams in a roofing membrane.

Your main goal when covering a flat roof is to create a barrier that will be impenetrable to water.

How do you make an item (besides a roof) impenetrable to water? You can either apply something physical such as a tarp, or coat it with a material to create a barrier like you would via deck stain or lacquer. Roofs follow this same premise –- either physically cover it with something like a PVC or an EPDM rubber membrane, or apply a coating such as tar or spray on silicon.

Flat Roof Costs:

It’s easy to assume that a flat roof would be far less expensive to apply materials to than a pitched one. For access reasons alone it would seem it’s a lot easier to roof a flat surface than one that is steep and requires a harnesses and a rope line to move around.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Many roofing contractors will tell you, though, that working on flat surfaces is actually harder on the back.

Take into account that flat roofs often require the application of a layer of insulation, adhesives or hot air welding, and some types such as modified bitumen are installed with a torch that heats up the seal.

Installation costs can be just as high for a flat roof as they would be for a steeper roof with say an 18/12 pitch.

Professional warrantied labor prices will vary across different markets in the US. You can get a fairly good idea of the estimated cost to cover a flat roof based on the national average:

1. PVC
2. EPDM
3. TPO
4. Modified Bitumen
5. BUR
6. Spray on Coating

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TPO vs. PVC Roofing Cost in 2020, Plus Pros & Cons

If you are looking for a cost-effective and durable single-ply roofing system for your flat or low-slope roof, a TPO (thermoplastic olefin) membrane may be a solid, energy-efficient option.

TPO membrane installation

Cost

A typical residential TPO roof will cost between $6.50 and $11.50 per sq. ft. installed. Thus, for an average-sized 1,200 sq. ft. flat roof, your total cost to install a new TPO roof can range from $7,800 to $13,800, depending on project specific variables, contractor choice, and your home’s location.

The above cost assumes a low-slope roof on a single-story or two-story house, the cost of materials and supplies, removal and disposal of up-to one layer of existing material such as EPDM rubber, permitting, installation, and a 5 year workmanship warranty.

Note: the cost can be significantly higher in expensive metro areas and on complex flat roofs that involve additional work and/or are difficult to access.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Did you know? TPO membrane can provide combined benefits of both, EPDM rubber and PVC roofs, but at a more economical cost than PVC.

It’s therefore not surprising that TPO roofing systems are quickly growing in popularity and demand, in both residential and commercial flat roof markets.

TPO in a Nutshell

flat-roof

A TPO membrane is made from ethylene propylene rubber. Special technology is used to chemically bind together, rubber, ethylene ( an organic gaseous substance) and propylene (a byproduct of petroleum refining). At the end, numerous filler materials are added, such as talc, carbon filler and fiberglass. — These fillers reinforce the TPO membrane’s strength and durability.

Did you know? TPO roofing membrane has been specifically designed to have the advantages of a rubber roof, combined with hot air-weldable seams for extra durability.

TPO membranes have been manufactured in the US since the early 1990’s and are now the fastest growing segment of the US single-ply roofing industry.

TPO Membrane Options

TPO roofs are manufactured to meet a variety of needs and design specifications. They are available in white, light gray, and black colors. White TPO roofs offer the best solar radiant heat reflection properties, hence they are the most popular choice thanks to their energy-saving potential.

Single Ply Membrane on a Residential Flat Roof

For most residential applications, TPO membranes come in two thicknesses options: 45 mils (.045″) or 60 mils (.060″). The width and length of the membrane can vary depending on the manufacturer, with a typical TPO membrane roll being 6 to 6.5 ft. wide and 100 ft. long.

Other membrane thicknesses and widths are also available depending on the manufacturer, including a 3 feet-wide rolls for the edges of the roof. Commercial grade TPO membranes may have a thicknesses of up to 80 mils (.080″) and may come in up to 12 feet-wide rolls.

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Top 5 Energy Efficient Home Improvements and Their Costs

Are your ready to make your home greener and more energy-efficient? If so, consider the following five home improvement upgrades that can be completed by a professional remodeling contractor, as well as by an experienced DIY enthusiast working collaboratively with a handy friend. 😉

1. Cool Roofs Vs. Traditional Asphalt and Dark EPDM Rubber

amazing-custom-home-with-standing-seam-metal-roof

Dark roofs make houses hotter, light roofs make houses cooler. To achieve these benefits a specialist applicator can coat your roof with reflective materials, some of which are applied like paint, sprayed directly on the surface of an existing roof. Of course, this is often, but not always, a one-season solution.

More Info on Cool Roofs: https://energy.gov/energysaver/energy-efficient-home-design/cool-roofs

Energy conservation wizards are currently working on tiles that will go from light to dark as needed — they can cut the sunlight absorbed into your house by 80% when they are white and slice heating costs by 20% and more when they turn black.

You can find a cool roof coating formulated with acrylic polymers, resins, fillers and titanium dioxide pigments for about $100 for a 4.75 gallon container (Via GreenHomeGuide.com).

If rather than applying it yourself, your would prefer to hire a professional, expect to pay anywhere from a few to several thousands of dollars to properly apply a liquid roof coating. You should know that most liquid roof coatings are only suitable for durable membrane-based flat roofs and aging metal roofs.

Surely, cool liquid roof coatings can also be applied over asphalt shingles, but the results will not be as good, because asphalt shingles have a tendency to chip and crack. Thus, a complete re-roofing application may be a better option for an aged asphalt roof.

Energy Efficient, Solar-Reflective PVC membrane on a flat roof

PVC membrane installed by: New England Metal Roof

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If you have a flat or low-slope roof that is starting to show the signs of age, and may thus require replacement soon, then consider installing one of the following membranes; white, energy-efficient and solar-reflective PVC membrane, TPO membrane, or white EPDM rubber roof. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per foot for EPDM rubber membrane installed. A PVC or TPO membrane will cost about $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot installed.

2. Metal

A standing seam metal roof on the house

Today’s metal roofs have come a long way from the tin shacks of yore. Modern metal roofs are as likely to look like cedar shakes or clay tiles or asphalt shingles as sheet metal. A metal roof won’t blow off in hurricane-force winds and is fireproof.

Metal roofs will cost more to purchase and install than traditional asphalt roofs, but will still be on the job half a century from now, while two or three asphalt roofs are clogging landfills. 😉

Steel Shingles Roof

Expect a metal roof comprised of interlocking shingles to run around $3.50 to $4.50 per square foot for materials including trim. With the installation, a metal shingles roof will cost about $7.50 to $10.00 per square foot.

concave-shaped standing seam roof

Materials for Galvalume standing seam will cost about $4.50 to $5.00 per square foot. With the installation, a standing seam metal roof will cost about $10 to $12 per square foot, not counting the expense of a roof tear-off.

During winter, an energy efficient metal roof, such as standing seam or metal shingles will help shed the snow off the roof, before the snow has a chance to accumulate. It can thus be an energy-smart and elegant alternative to heat cables and/or snow rakes commonly employed to deal with the ice dams on the roof.

PV Solar Panels on Metal Roof

Speaking of home energy efficiency, another major advantage of a standing seam metal roof is that it is solar roof ready. Meaning that it can be simply and elegantly combined and integrated with PV solar panels by means of simple metal clamps via a bracketing systems attached to the seam. This method does not require drilling any holes (potential future sources of leaks) in the roof

3. Energy Efficient Window

Windows are among the biggest culprits in creating high energy bills. But no one wants to live in a house without windows. Double-pane windows are one solution; they will retain room heat in the winter and prevent heat gain in the summer. At the same time the double-panes will keep your house bright and sunny. And a little quieter as well — the extra layer of glass helps prevent outside noises from penetrating the windows.

Most average-sized double-pane windows will cost anywhere from $500 to $700 installed.

There is more to double-pane windows than two pieces of glass. Low-E glass, filled with argon gas provides the ultimate in insulation over a single-pane window. Expect to pay about $40 extra per window. But more is not always better when it comes to window panes. Triple-panes can be a help in the harshest climates, but they come at a cost of reduced clarity in looking to the world outside.

4. Green Frames

The frames your windows live in are opportunities for the green-minded remodeler. Wood offers the best insulation but may deteriorate prematurely in a rainy climate. Plus, they are going to need new coats of paint every few years.

If that means latex paint, that will douse your interior air with a bucket of noxious petrochemicals (there is a reason paint requires special disposal techniques). Eco-safe paints are getting better every year with more durability and a wider variety of people-pleasing colors. And they are less costly at the cash register as well.

It is hard to beat the look of wood on windows and that preference can trump green tendencies when it comes to alternatives such as vinyl or aluminum. Vinyl is budget-friendly (from $450-$600 as opposed to between $800 and $1,000 for the installation of wood windows) and no trees are destroyed, and aluminum can be a good choice in rainy climates.

5. Insulation

attic insulation

Seal and insulate, seal and insulate, seal and insulate. That is the manta of energy-efficiency, but green-minded homeowners can take this basic Eco-friendly chore one step beyond. Spray insulation or traditional batting insulation is loaded with chemicals. Soy foam works the same insulating magic without the environmental downsides.

Home insulation is where the true green converts are separated from the wanna-bes. Closed-cell spray foam is a pricey insulation option, costing between $3.00 and $3.50 a square foot in walls and another $1.00 per square foot for attics.

Soy foam will work as well as cheaper and more readily available fiberglass-based batting insulation, but not so much better that it will be a boon to your pocketbook in the long run. You won’t recoup the costs of hidden soy insulation at resale. This is one financial bullet you will be taking for the good of the planet. 😉


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